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The Supreme Court will hear arguments why health insurers are entitled to ACA reimbursements. Photo: Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Health insurers will get a chance to persuade the Supreme Court that they're entitled to roughly $12 billion in payments under the Affordable Care Act. A lower court ruled against the insurers last year, but the Supreme Court said Monday that it will hear their appeal.

The big picture: The disputed payments involve the ACA's "risk corridors" program, designed to help stabilize the law's insurance markets through their infancy. Insurers say the government still owes them billions, but the Trump administration says Congress has forbidden those payments.

How they work: Risk corridors were intended to give insurers some peace of mind as they entered a new and unpredictable marketplace.

  • The program collected money from insurers that had a better-than-expected early experience in the ACA's exchanges, and used that money for insurers whose early experience was worse than they expected.
  • But the program ended up owing more than it had taken in.
  • The assumption at the time was that HHS would cover those payments out of its budget. But then Congress passed a rider prohibiting HHS from using its funds for the program.

Why it matters: Some insurers that didn't receive the promised payments have already gone bankrupt. And the $12 billion on the line now is, obviously, a huge sum.

  • There are also broader legal issue at stake, such as what companies can expect when they enter into contracts with the federal government and whether Congress can change those terms retroactively.

Where it stands: The court won't hear the case until its next term, which begins in October.

Go deeper

Muslim families hope to reunite following Biden's travel ban repeal

Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Muslim Americans across the U.S. are celebrating President Biden's day-1 reversal of former President Trump's travel ban that targeted several Muslim-majority countries.

The big picture: The repeal of what many critics called the "Muslim ban" renews hope for thousands of families separated by Trump's order.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  4. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  5. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries.
  6. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
5 hours ago - Health

Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's plan to accelerate the reopening of K-8 schools faces major challenges from a still out-of-control pandemic and more contagious coronavirus variants.

Why it matters: The longer American kids miss in-person schooling, the further they fall behind. But the uncertain state of the science on the role young children play in the pandemic continues to complicate efforts to reopen schools.